Wednesday, December 7, 2016

We're Back, Loves.

I'm back. We are back. Different. But back. A changed version of our family. Better? Who knows? But we are alive, and we are living from a place of love. Getting to know ourselves in new ways, from perspectives we never imagined or even knew existed. And it's been really hard for a really long time. But we are learning and we are growing and life isn't quite as scary and difficult as it was when everything fell to pieces. 

The kids are good. Now. That's the most important part. They weren't always good. They struggled a lot. And it sucked a lot for them. And their hearts? Broken. But not completely. Divorce stinks the most for kids. Their lives were physically and mentally and emotionally upended. And knowing that it was largely my fault was a really enormously shitty horse pill to swallow. It felt like it was the worst thing in the world for a very long time...and each and every moment that their eyes were filled with that deep and dark sadness was actually the very worst thing in the whole entire world. With time, I've learned that their hearts were broken for a lot longer than from the moment the door was closed on their parents' relationship. My kids had long been suffering the dysfunction of a shattered marriage, too. And with that passing of time, I've learned that their hearts were broken in part because they needed more from me...and they had needed more from me for such a long time...and I just couldn't see it or answer their needs because I was emotionally stuck in a majorly bad way. Caught up in my own self-indulgent pity, I was failing them as my marriage was failing...and that failure was really so unfair to my babies. 

If there is one amazing thing I can say I figured out...because there is a very special and good part of the pain and trauma of my divorce...it is that I figured out that my children deserved way better than I was giving them. I learned how to be the mother they actually, truly needed rather than the one I thought I should be...the one who made everything look pretty and put together on the outside but didn't dig too deep past the surface of just getting by. The lesson is one of the toughest ones life has offered me, but it is the absolute best one I've had the fortune of encountering.

So, I'm grateful for the failure and the heartbreak. I'm grateful for the tremendous, unfathomable loss...stripped to the very core...it was as if everything had to go away so I could learn what life and love and actual happiness are. 

Slowly, ever so slowly, we've picked ourselves up. We've cried our hearts out. We've been angry and sad and devastated and lost and lonely. Gradually, we've moved from being broken to picking up the pieces of our life and putting them back together in new and different and hopefully better ways. We've pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps, dusted off our britches, and put real, true smiles back on our faces. Our family is far from perfect, but we're living with love and hope and peace in our hearts, and I could not ask for anything more. Not one thing. Seriously.



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Real Camp

We took a huge step this summer (maybe by "we" I mean more like "me" but whatever...this was a way huge deal). Back in March, a friend of mine approached me about this super crazy idea to send our girls to camp. Not like easy, morning-only, down the street camp, but away for multiple nights, sleeping in bunk houses with teenage counselors, two hours from home camp. Like REAL CAMP. Like WHAT??? Like send my ELLA to REAL CAMP??? Like PHEW...let me marinate in this for a hot year or two.
My sweet pal, Becky, whose daughter Ella has grown to absolutely adore was all psyched about sending Ella and Addie to this real camp. She told me about how absolutely fabulous real Camp Cherokee is. How her husband had spent weeks in the summers as a young fella there. How it was this amazing place nestled up in the woods in Kings Mountain. How there was kayaking and paddle boarding and hiking and camp songs and arts and crafts and everything else a cool real camp should offer. How everyone who went there went on to be counselors and how some children fell in love with their future partners in crime life.

As I considered this real camp, I realized that it sounded cool. But, as cool as it sounded, I couldn't wrap my head around sending my Ella far, far away to sleep in bunk houses with young counselors and frolic and do god knows what around a camp fire. And, I considered my serious concerns. Who was going to care for my girl the way I have to? Who was going to worry about her the way I do? Who was going to make sure she wore her freaking life jacket? So, I called the people who run real camp and after several conversations on the phone (I'm certain they thought I was totally overbearing and crazy and one of those moms who make them reconsider their jobs), and I decided that I'd send my oldest, precious child, to whom I'd given life away to real camp.
Driving her up there was pretty easy. Leaving her was a mayjah challenge. Helping her get settled on the top bunk (holy crap...I almost died...how could she do this to me? Sleep on the top bunk where she could fall off and break her leg...but she wouldn't comply with my pleadings to sleep on the bottom...I know; I am a lunatic...) and seeing the cute signatures and messages adorning the boards and ceilings (see picture)...and meeting the sweet, but very young (and in the middle of bad choices land...like you KNOW what they do after the little girls are asleep) counselors...real camp was a feat for which I was not prepared. Fortunately for her, my Ella was ALL prepared for me to get the you-know-what outta there.
So, we left. Left her. Left my first born, the one I carried for 9 months and got super fat from, the one who I watch over and worry over and love with so much of my soul it makes me realize that there is enough love in this world to go around to everyone. And, we drove away. Two hours home...over the river and through the woods, away from my Ella we went.

Of course, I worried. As a self-proclaimed phone addict, I was even more of a psycho. I didn't put the thing down, watched it during my yoga class, would hold it close as it was charging, almost cried when a friend of mine told me I had a problem with the device that had become an extension of my arm (wasn't it pretty?). But, I had to be available if anything happened to my girl at real camp. Or if she needed me...but, she didn't. She didn't even lie to the counselors and ask to phone a friend mom. (I see how it is, Ella.)

*I suppose that this is what happens when you go to camp where the counselors are kind and not named after pastries, where you don't get peed on by your friend with whom you've crawled into bed because your cousin got stung by a bee on your side of the tent, where you don't leave with a screaming case of chiggers, etc.
Going to get her after those three long nights was so exciting! I couldn't wait to get my arms around her and hear all about how much she missed me and was ready to come home and all that stuff. While she was excited to see us...literally, she nearly knocked me down with the world's best running, leaping hug into my arms...she wasn't ready to come home. To clarify, it wasn't because home sucks; it was because real camp was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Yes, real camp was everything that Becky had promised and more. Kayaking and rock climbing and arts and crafts and paddle boarding and camp songs and archery and swimming and late nights and no holding hands with gross boys and the mess hall and silliness and laughing and Addie and friends and fun and fun and more fun. She loved it. My Ella LOVED real camp. She was fine. She was better than fine. She was amazing and strong and brave and independent and kind and intelligent. She was Ella. Ella at real camp. Not surprisingly, she wants to go back next year.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

One Year Ago

One year ago, right now, I was in a hospital room. Hooked up to stuff. Wide as the earth. In labor. One year ago, I was anxiously awaiting her exodus from my body. I already knew her pretty well. She'd been holed up inside of me for 37 and a half weeks. I'd felt her grow and move, hiccup and kick. I knew that she was full of life. I knew that she was going to be beautiful.  I knew that I loved her as much as I love her brother and sister. I knew that she was going to be awesome.

And, she absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, exceeded my expectations.
And, at 6:13 in the morning on June 20, there she was. This 9 pound bouncing baby girl. Full of life. Stunningly beautiful. I loved her as much as I love her brother and sister. She was awesome.
Evie Sue.

Nothing could prepare me for the addition of the third. Nothing. I was completely knocked off of my feet. Many days I've not known if I was coming or going, whose name was what, if I'd ever get the laundry ever done (I still have not). 
In the past year, as she's grown like a milkweed, we've grown a bunch as a family. We've become bigger, better, stronger, happier. I know that we could have done it without her, but we've done so much more because of her. She makes us laugh. She makes us sing. She makes us shine. We all have gotten this amazing opportunity to live our lives vicariously through her newness, through her wonder, through her explorations. And, I know that she has reminded us all of a light that we all have inside of us that we often forget is there. It is a light that beckons us to love and simplicity and tells us that there is so much more in this world to be aware of, that there are so many fantastic adventures in the most unassuming of places, that joy can be found in the very moment in which we all live.
So, we've slowed down. We don't need those things that are outside our little worlds to find excitement. We know that what we need is right in front of all of our faces. In our home. In our immediate people. Within us. With each other.
In this past year, we've grown as a family as we've watched our sweet, squishy muffin face grow. She's shown us a way that we may have never known without her. We've watched her learn to grab for things, to recognize the people who love her, to roll over, to crawl, to sit up, to walk, to make sounds, to smile, to laugh, to eat, to be independent, to be part of a family. And, while she was growing in all of these ways, we've grown right along with her.
Happy birthday, my sweet Evie Sue. Thank you for being ours. Happy birthday, Family. We are so loved. So fortunate. One year ago, you made all the difference, my precious baby girl. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Summit's First Tooth

Since he was a baby, I swore he'd never grow up. My sweet Summy Poopers would always be my little guy. So far, it's worked...all my ways of making him mine, all mine, and making him love me the most. He promises he'll never leave me. He'll always live with me. He'll always want his mommy more than anything or anyone else. And, honestly, I've convinced myself in more ways than one that no girl will steal his heart away from me, that he WILL always be a mama's boy.

But, just the other day, something occurred that let me know that nature has a way of making things happen, things you just can't control. He's growing up. And, while his sweet, little, Wizard of Oz munchkin voice sounds the same, and while he hugs me just as tight, I was reminded that one day, he might REALLY grow up.

He told me one of those little baby teeth on the bottom had been wiggly a few months back, but certain that my baby would never betray me in such a way as to get big boy teeth, I ignored all the signs. Yet, it did...the time came when Mr. Wiggly became Mr. I'm Outta Here, and that little pearly white wiggled his way from Summit's mouth. Unlike Ella, Summit wouldn't let me touch it in those final moments. In fact, homeboy freaked out when he realized what was happening. Of course, the sight of blood has always put a scare in him that could melt the polar icecaps. And, he came running into my lap, crying about the red stuff, scared for what he had never experienced before.

Part of me cried and was scared, too... not because I didn't know what was to come, but because I do. I know that from here on out, those teeth will keep falling from his little mouth, that such a small experience is but a sign of the fact that my baby boy is changing into a big boy who will grow into a young man who will one day NOT run into my arms when something scares him or when he needs to just cuddle with his mama. One day, he won't need me the way that I need him. So, despite the fact that he was super cute in the moment of losing that first tooth, and that it's super funny to hear him speak with that little gap in his teeth, a small part of my heart was breaking and I longed for more time with my babies in the moments that were before these moments.

But, I can't change that. I can't stop the time. I CAN, however, relish in every second of their precious love, and that's what I intend to always do. So, congratulations, my baby boy. No matter how full of funny-looking adult teeth crowd your little face, you'll always be my sweet Summy Poopers. I love you.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I hope I don't look old.

I recently saw that someone...not anyone in particular, just a person...was turning 52. 52 years old. And, it made me think...how long until I turn 52? 16 years. Sheesh. The answer wasn't as big as I imagined it would be. As it should have been. Not for how old I am. Right? Because I know I'm not so great at math, I pulled out my calculator, even though I knew the answer couldn't be any different, but I had to be sure. Yet, there it was. Of all the times I wanted to be wrong (which is like, never), there I was: right as rain.

And, then, like rain the tears started pouring out of my face as the realization sunk in. How did I get so old?

16 years. Holy crap. Wasn't I just 16, like, 10 years ago? No way, Jose. That was, in fact, 20 years ago.

It's a strange moment when you realize that you're that age you remember your parents as when you were little. The same age you expect your parents still to be. That age when you joked with your parents about how old they were. When you picked on them for their grey hairs or receding hair lines. When the grandparents were still alive. When Christmas was for you, and Easter and Halloween, too. When you played with real kid toys and cousins. And, went to your first school dances. When you couldn't wait to grow up, and it seemed like life would go on forever and ever.

And, I thought about what I was doing 16 years ago. Moving away from South Carolina. From Charleston to a perfect 3-month Outward Bound adventure in Texas and Mexico and Minnesota and Ontario. To Utah. I turned 21 in the Painted Desert, in Bullfrog Marina on Lake Powell. I was making new lifelong friends and creating new experiences that would shape who I am. I was blazing a path for the direction my life would go...getting lost on plateaus, playing in hoodoos, exploring canyons, snowboarding, and hanging out in hotsprings...16 years ago.

16 years later...look where I find myself.  Here I am with a husband and living back in the Palmetto State. And, now, my kids are the ones playing with the real kid toys and their cousins. They're the ones building forts. Christmas is for them, and Easter and Halloween, too. They pick on our grey hairs (as did the lady at my hair salon the other day, who told me I was lucky to have the greys hold off for so long...was she calling me old?). They are getting ready for those first dances. They have all of their grandparents here to love and love and love and love them. They are living life like it will go on forever and ever.

16 years from now...I cannot imagine what that will look like. Certainly, I never really imagined my life right now the way that it is, which does not me that I do not love it, but I guess the beauty is in the surprise of it all. I hope that we're all happy and experiencing the world in the best ways that we can. I hope that life is good, as it is right now, as it was 16 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago. And, I hope I don't look old.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Feels Like Home

Oh, lawdy. I don't even know where to begin. I don't even know where I've been. I thought I had my you-know-what together when I wrote that "Dusting off the Keyboard" blog, but apparently my you-know-what has been all over the place, and it's taken me some time to clean it up. And, though I'm not done, and I still have stuff in funny places, I'm working on it. I have no other choice, really. Even my kids have been asking me when I'm going to start working on this blog thang again. So, I'm going to try. Really. I think I would have done it sooner, but I didn't know how to do it. Like that painting you put to the side, promising yourself that you'll get back to it tomorrow, but you know that you just aren't up to the commitment...
I have been up to the other commitments, though. That baby is the most fun. The most. I guess I've been enjoying my time with her more than I have been worrying about other things that I should be doing. She's so happy. She's so good. She's the sweetest thing. And, she's growing soooo quickly. Knowing she's the last of them for me has made me not want to do ANYTHING ELSE except look at her and play with her and talk to her. She "talks" back, too...for the record, her first word was 'mama' some time ago, though she does say 'dada' because it's so easy to get out. She's started to pull up, and she's crawling all over the place. Which, inevitably leads to bruised foreheads and fits of crying and screaming after she smacks her head on the coffee table multiple times in a day. Sheesh, Evie Sue. Learn a damn lesson. Please, or people are going to start thinking we beat you. And, just last week these two little teeth burst through her bottom gums. How is all of this happening so fast? I keep begging time to slow down, but he refuses. Who knew Father Time could be such a bitch?

Ella and Summit have been leading busy little lives, too.

This third grade business is no joke. Ella has so much homework and tests and quizzes and multiplication tables and REAL-LIVE grades. I don't remember third grade being so serious when I was little. At least it didn't seem to be so. We have mean girls and MAP testing, and I can't decide which one is worse. I do know that there is a lot of pressure for kids in Ella's grade and a lot of pressure for parents, too. What happened to the fun in learning in elementary school, I'd like someone to rationally explain. Fortunately, my girl seems to enjoy school and has been on the all-A honor roll on both of the report cards that have come out this year! I'm super proud of her hard work!
 Kindergarten has been a perfect experience for little Summit. He's in an awesome class with a teacher who seems to absolutely love him. I was really anxious for him to start grade school, hoping that whoever was lucky enough to get him in his or her class would see how lucky they were, would see the sweet boy that he is. Thankfully, my wish came true: he's a happy little Busy Bee with a sweet-as-pie teacher.

As for our general existence, life's been good. I really cannot complain. We live in a cool spot where we spend a lot more time outside, TOGETHER, going for bike rides and runs and walks and building bonfires, fishing, shooting hoops, kicking the soccer ball around. Adjusting to life in a new house, getting settled, taking care of the family...these things have been the most important...and, maybe they've kept me from this blog, but I've been so invested in family life, in making this new place ours...it's nice to feel like we're home.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

the bAAAAby.

Poor Evie Sue. Poor thing. I have totally missed out on some serious posts about this child. And, I've missed out on taking some really sweet pictures of her. Not knowing where the camera was, not knowing whether I was coming or going. Allowing myself to get completely overwhelmed with the business of moving, I'm afraid that I haven't given her the consideration on this thing that she deserves. I guess I've got no choice but to start now.

She's a sweet, sweet thing. One of the sweetest. She's a happy baby. She loves all of us. Her daddy. Her sister. Her brother. Her mama. And, we all love her back.

She loves to eat, as evidenced by the chunky size of her short little legs.

She loves to speak, as evidenced by the cute way she repeats the sounds back to us that we say over and over and OVER again.

She loves her play gym, and she rolled over for the first time on that thing on September 17...despite what her daddy says (assisting the roll doesn't count). She loves kicking and batting her little toys and staring at them with these huge, imploring eyes.


She loves to snuggle. So much.


She is so patient with us. She hardly cries, as if she understands that sometimes life is really busy for everyone and she doesn't want to create more drama (wish her sister could take a hint...:)).

And, she loves to smile...these gigantic, open-mouthed, toothless smiles that make her big baby blues sparkle and shine.

Mostly, she loves to love. She's such a love.